CAMP PACIANO RIZAL, Philippines—Police seized 20 geckos on Wednesday and arrested 12 people suspected of illegally poaching the lizards for an underground trade in San Pedro, Laguna.
Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz, Laguna police director, in a text message, said the geckos were recovered from the house of a certain Eduardo Junio in Barangay (village) Cuyab in San Pedro at around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Supt. Kirby Kraft, San Pedro police chief, said the police had received a tip from a concerned citizen that geckos were to be illegally transported to the town.
“It was not initially identified where in San Pedro, until today (Wednesday) when an informant led us to (Junio’s) house,” Kraft said in a phone interview.
Police arrested Junio, a certain Serafin Mendoza from Dasmariñas City in Cavite, and 10 other people inside the house.
“(The suspects) would not tell us anything but they said the geckos all came from Bicol,” Kraft said.
Police, however, believed the geckos, all placed in a large animal cage when found, would be sold. “Why would you keep a gecko in your home?” Kraft said.
In 2011, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had warned the public against collecting and selling geckos, as this violated the Animal Welfare Act.
At the time, there was a frenzy for the reptiles believed to bear the cure for HIV-AIDS and news on the street said that foreign buyers were willing to buy geckos weighing at least 300 grams for P1,000 per gram. However, no medical expert has confirmed that geckos indeed bore the cure the HIV-AIDS, human immuno-deficiency virus which leads to the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Kraft said they would turn over the geckos to the DENR.